Children and adults alike enjoy the excitement of Halloween, whether it’s dressing up in costumes or chowing down on tasty candy and treats. For those with food allergies, however, Halloween can be a difficult, if not stressful, holiday due to the overwhelming presence of treats with common allergens, such as peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, dairy, and other allergens.
Even though it may take a little additional preparation, food allergy sufferers can have a safe and happy Halloween with these six tips:
1. Check the ingredients. Before chowing down on Halloween candy or party snacks, check the ingredients. Thoroughly read the ingredient label on every piece of candy before you (or your child) eat it. Also be aware that the allergy statements on different sizes of candy bars may be different, even if they are the same brand. You can donate any candy that contains allergens to non-allergic family members or share it at work.
Nuts, one of the “Big 8” allergens, are commonly found in Halloween candy. We previously shared information on Halloween and peanut allergies in this infographic, which helps adults and children learn more about peanut allergies and how to stay safe during Halloween.
2. Make your own fun. Instead of heading to the neighborhood Halloween party, throw your own get-together at your house. This way you can control all the food and provide allergy-friendly snacks.
3. Be prepared. Make sure you have your (or your child’s) medication, such as an EpiPen, on hand wherever you go on Halloween. Be sure that someone else besides yourself knows how to administer the medication and understands what to do in the event of an emergency, like calling 911 if necessary.
4. Think beyond “trick or treat.” Swap the classic trick-or-treating with other Halloween activities, such as visiting haunted houses, watching scary movies, or visiting Halloween-themed exhibits at local museums, zoos, or theme parks. If you do decide to go trick-or-treating…
5. Go trick-or-treating with your child and before heading out, identify what candy your child is allergic to and establish ground rules for how your child should handle any candy they receive. Make a “safe” bag of allergen-free snacks to carry with you so that your child can eat candy as they walk around the neighborhood. Don’t let younger children carry candy they may be allergic to, as they might not understand the risk and eat some. After trick-or-treating, sort through the candy and discard any with allergens, or simply swap your child’s Halloween candy haul for a pre-made bag of safe candy and treats.
6. Look for teal pumpkins. The Food Allergy Research & Education organization wants people to “go teal” this Halloween. FARE’s Teal Pumpkin Project encourages people to display a teal-painted pumpkin at their door if they have non-food treats, such as stickers, bubbles, crayons, or small toys, to pass out to trick-or-treaters.
People that follow these tips and their normal food safety rules this holiday will be able to enjoy all the classic Halloween activities and maybe even start a few new traditions!
If you believe you have food allergies or have questions about resources available to people with allergies, give us a call. Or, if you are looking for an allergist, we’d love to meet you. We can be reached at 212-729-1283 or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.